Gunning for the top of the ladder


A rare event is taking place this weekend in the Hyundai A-League.

With the Hyundai A-League in its seventh season, and all foundation teams having played 145 regular season matches to date, there are two teams tied at the top on competition points on the all-time Hyundai A-League ladder.

And those two teams will be battling it out against each other in Week 5 in a real mouth-watering prospect.

But before revealing who those top two teams are, let-s have a quick look at who has led the way on the all-time A-League regular season ladder since it started.

Adelaide United, top two finishers in three of the league-s first four seasons, generally led the all-time ladder from 2005/06 until 12 matches into the 2009/10 season.

What seemed like just another A-League match at Etihad Stadium on 24 October 2009, between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United, marked a turning point on the all-time ladder as the Victory won 3-1 and overtook Adelaide on the all-time A-League ladder.

And so since then it has been the Victory leading the way on the all-time ladder.

With Brisbane Roar-s current run however it was only a matter of time before they would catch up to the Victory on the all-time ladder – which happened after Week 3 this season.

And with both teams securing wins in Week 4, the Roar and the Victory have each earned 231 competition points in all regular season games, with Melbourne (+56) ahead of Brisbane (+52) only on goal difference leading into Week 5.

Not too far behind are Adelaide United (222 pts), Sydney FC (213) and the Mariners (209).

A win by the Roar at Etihad on Saturday night would take Ange Postecoglou-s team to the outright top of the all-time competition ladder for effectively the first time.

It wouldn-t be the first time however that mastercoach Postecoglou has taken a club to the top of an all-time national league ladder – more on that later…

If we look back at the old National Soccer League (NSL), there were three clubs which had dynasties – long periods at the top of the all-time NSL ladder.

These three legendary clubs also share the honour of winning the most overall NSL titles, with four Championships apiece.

For the league-s first two decades, Marconi and Hakoah-Sydney City were the teams that spent most weeks at the top of the all-time NSL ladder.

From late 1996/97 until the conclusion of the NSL in 2004 however it was the mighty South Melbourne who led the way continuously on the all-time NSL ladder.

Over the NSL-s 27 seasons, the leading teams on competition points (standardised to 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw for all matches) were South Melbourne (1243 pts), Marconi (1190), Sydney Olympic (1076) and Adelaide City (1074).

In hindsight, the promotion of one of South Melbourne-s favourite sons, from player to coach in 1996, was a masterstroke by the club.

Consider what that this new kid on the coaching block – aged just 30 when appointed – did in his first four full seasons as coach at ‘Hellas-.

Aside from taking his club to the top of the all-time NSL ladder from early 1997, this rookie coach led South Melbourne to NSL Championships in 1998 and 1999, and an Oceania Club Championship in 1999, securing a berth at the 2000 FIFA Club World Championship.

The coach was one Ange Postecoglou, now of course plying his management prowess in the Hyundai A-League with the rampaging Roar.

But its not just Brisbane Roar now benefitting from the South Melbourne legacy, as a quick look at Melbourne Victory-s coaching staff reveals…

Let-s see, head Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic – 10 years at South Melbourne; assistant Kevin Muscat – 4 years; football director Francis Awaritefe – 3 years; goalkeeper/assistant Steve Mautone – 1 year.

The heritage of South Melbourne – statistically the most successful Australian club of all-time – in the Hyundai A-League is legacy not just to that great club, but to a lot of other clubs in the old national league.

Something to think about when enjoying the Hyundai A-League action this weekend, in particular the historic Victory-Roar battle for all-time Hyundai A-League points honours.